Colonial Survey

Murray Leinster wasn’t the oldest living author published by Gnome – E. E. (Doc) Smith snuck in at the end when Marty Greenberg rescued two titles from Fantasy Press – but he was one of the few to have been alive in the 19th century, in 1896. Born William Fitzgerald Jenkins in 1896, his first story was published in 1915 under the pseudonym of Jean Farquar but a dozen or so appeared the next year as by Will F. Jenkins, his favorite variation on his name, and he also used such pulpish appellations as Pepe Gomez, Louisa Carter Lee, and Rafaele Yborra for hundreds of magazine appearances. Leinster (pronounced Lenster) was used for most of his sf work and also for his westerns, a much more lucrative field until the 1950s.

With all that history, Leinster had a paucity of hardback titles to his credit. A mystery, Murder Madness in 1931, a collection, Sidewise in Time in 1950, a novel, Operation: Outer Space in 1954, and Gnome’s previous The Forgotten Planet were the complete set. Yet Jenkins continued to regularly publish high-quality hard science fiction and remained a fan favorite. He was awarded the 1956 Hugo Award for Best Novellette for “Expedition Team,” published in Astounding Science Fiction, one of four stories Leinster wrote about the Colonial Survey.

Contents and original publication:

  • “Sand Doom” (Astounding Science Fiction, December 1955)
  • “Combat Team” (Astounding Science Fiction, March 1956, as “Exploration Team”)
  • “The Swamp Was Upside Down” (Astounding Science Fiction, September 1956)
  • “Solar Constant” (Astounding Science Fiction, July 1956, as “Critical Difference”)

Floyd C. Gale reviewed it for the November 1957 Galaxy:

Leinster pulls his miracles out of a hat labeled Deus ex perspiration and makes them completely credible. First rate.

Colonial Survey, by Murray Leinster (pseud. of William Fitzgerald Jenkins), 1957, title #62, 185 pages, $3.00, 5000 copies printed. Hardback. Gray boards with green spine lettering. Jacket design by Wallace Wood.“FIRST EDITION” stated on copyright page. Printed by H. Wolff, New York. Back cover: 34 titles listed, through Earthman’s Burden. Gnome Press address given as 80 East 11th St., New York 3.